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No sophomore jinx for Hirayasu, Brozman

Nankuru Naisa
Nankuru Naisa
By Takashi Hirayasu and Bob Brozman

World Music Network: 2001

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This review first appeared in the May 28, 2001 edition of the American Reporter.

When American guitarist Bob Brozman and Okinawan singer/plucker Takashi Hirayasu released "Jin Jin/Firefly" last year, it seemed one of those fluke chance meetings that produces real magic. Brozman's combination of the blues and Hawaiian slack key playing was a near-perfect complement to Hirayasu's own playing of the six-string sanshin.

So having recorded an utterly perfect CD, why did the two want to risk disappointing listeners by tackling another disc?

Only they can answer that, but the rest of us ought to be glad they took the chance.

While the first CD was recorded in Hirayasu's home village, for this one they gathered in Brozman's stomping grounds of Santa Cruz. But you'd never guess that it wasn't the same session that produced the first – the two musicians just click so solidly, so seamlessly that it's like one person playing both parts.

Except that on this release, there are more than two parts. David Hidalgo of Los Lobos brought his Mexican guitars with him, adding yet another flavor to the stew, while Piperr Heisig's acoustic bass adds some more punch to the lower end. And when Hidalgo lugs his accordion out for one song, it seems a perfect fit.

Hirayasu again handles all the singing, and his voice is as warm and resonant as any American crooner's, as welcoming as Frank's or Bing's, as mellow as Dean's.

This is just one of the most balanced and beautiful albums ever made, one that will be difficult to get out of your head or out of your heart.